Clay Aiken – A Landmark Achievement!

Rolling Stone magazine is a biweekly publication that covers music, politics and popular culture. It was founded in 1967 by Jann Wenner and Ralph J. Gleason. Jann Wenner is still the magazine’s owner, editor and publisher.

Making “the cover of the Rolling Stone” is a landmark achievement for music artists. Each issue reaches close to 1.5 million people.

July 10, 2003 was the official date on the Rolling Stone Magazine that featured Clay Aiken on its cover. But, the magazine was available in the middle of June.

Many people were surprised when they heard that Rolling Stone was featuring Clay Aiken. His inclusion in this venerable magazine lent an air of acceptance not just to Clay but also to the concept of American Idol.

Another question asked was why Clay and not Ruben? Since Ruben was the winner of American Idol, it was a valid question and some Ruben fans were upset and rather vocal about their disappointment. However, Clay’s story was really about the “guy next door” who becomes famous and was a tale that America loved. Clay was entering his last year of college with the intention of becoming a teacher. Clay said that he really wanted to be on The Amazing Race and auditioned for American Idol so his friends would stop bugging him to enter the competition. The general public embraced the young man who seemed puzzled as to why people were so captivated by him.

In answering questions about the photo shoot for Rolling Stone, Clay said that the cover shoot for Rolling Stone magazine required 8 hours of work and numerous changes of clothing. He admitted that he was somewhat tricked by the photographer who asked him to put on the black shirt and to not button it all the way down. He didn’t understand why, but quickly understood when they turned on a fan. Clay admitted that he was surprised they chose the photo they did. He said that they only took about 2 photos of him in that shirt. “I don’t know why people get so excited about that picture.” he says incredulously, “It’s just me!

When a reporter asked Clay if he had bought a copy of Rolling Stone Magazine with his photo on the cover, he replied that he was too embarrassed to go in and buy it. He asked one of his friends to buy one for him. He said while laughing, “I couldn’t go in and say ‘Can I have a copy of me on a magazine?!”

Clay was recording his album in London when he talked by phone to WRAL radio about the Rolling Stone experience. He said he really didn’t understand the significance of all of this until Ruben explained it to him.

Clay’s fans swarmed the bookstores and newspaper stands for copies of the magazine and many fans turned to E-Bay as a source.

The article, written by Erik Hedegaard, was the first time that Clay opened up about his life before American Idol. The writer was thorough and asked many interesting questions and seemed impressed by Clay’s down to earth attitude. He was treated fairly and with respect.

Do you remember the article? What was your favorite part? Do you still have your copy of the magazine?

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21 thoughts on “Clay Aiken – A Landmark Achievement!

  1. I definitely remember this article and yes, I still have my copy! No favorite part – just the "whole thing"!
    It was such an exciting time for us ClayFans – and it still continues to be an exciting ride for me!!
    Clay may have wanted the Amazing Race – but – we get an Amazing Race every time we try to get
    our tickets for any Clay Event !! I still don't think he understands why we all think he is so special
    and exciting. But we do – right??!!

  2. No don't have a copy ,,but I wish I did. I don't know how much it would cost to get a copy.

  3. I do have a couple of copies of "Rolling Stone" with Clay on the cover, but they are put away in a box of collectables. I must go and pull this copy out and read it again. It has been years. I think the thing that sticks in my mind, without going back first and reading, was the interviewer asked personal questions of Clay, that he was not ready yet to talk about. I think Clay was caught off guard, and answered the best he could, on the spot. I also think (I'm pretty sure this is the article, there have been so many) that this was the first time I had ever heard of anyone saying "grace" at a restaurant. I was aware that Clay did that at home, because of his religious background, but it felt so heartwarming to hear that when he was out, he did the same. I fell in love with his values right there, and here we are almost 10 years later. Amazing! Thanks for bringing this to our attention again Musicfan. Now I'm going to go and dig up my copy of Rolling Stone…

  4. I do still have a copy. Had a hard time finding it–it was sold out in so many places. Before I bought a copy, I went to the library and read their copy.
    Agree with clayitagain–was very impressed with Clay saying grace at the restaurant. I remember that it said he order spaghetti bolognese and I didn't know what that was. The next time I was at an Italian restaurant, I ordered it. Little did I know that I'd actually made it many times at home!!
    I also loved it when he was asked what he saw when he looked in the mirror and he replied, "I see ME!"
    I wonder if he'll ever understand what we see in him. Perhaps part of his appeal is that he doesn't get it. He really does see himself as just "him" and his modesty is very becoming.

  5. no i dont have a copy of the rolling stone with clayaiken on it and in it and i sure do wish i had a copy i dont know how much it wold cost to get a copy

  6. I went to a bookstore to read the Rolling Stone article, but didn't buy the mag. because it was so expensive. A couple of weeks later, I picked it up at Half Price Books! It is still on my bookshelf (along with lots of clippings, articles, etc. about Clay). I agree that Clay was not up to talking about his very personal life at that time, and didn't answer the questions as he would now do.

  7. He always looks good when he wears clothes that actually FIT. For me that was the shocker when this cover came out and Oprah's clip of the photo shoot. They actually got him out of the American Idol baggy suits with pant legs pooled around his ankles. I completely forgot he's over 6 feet tall because of the ill fitting suits, but you sure could tell in the Rolling Stone photo shoot. Sure wish he'd wear clothes the FIT properly more often! The validation of being on the cover was great! Thank you for taking us down memory lane. Check out the youtube video of Clay's photo shoot for this cover. I love it and the interview that goes with it.

    • I wanted to add the Youtube to this article, but they would not allow it on a site like this…Don't know if it is the person who made it or the magazine.

      • Thats not cool. Off with their heads! LOL. There is a small piece of it saved in CU under tv appearances – Oprah – Ruben clay Justin show – clay parts. probably not worth posting but fun to look at for your own sake. He was such a baby then. The YouTube one that I have in my favorites file says pixel glitter. Rollingstone cover shoot. Whatever that means. I love your work with this site!

  8. I remember it vividly! My favorite part is the entire article also. Wasn't 2003/2004 a "wild ride?" Those were the days for most of us of discovering someone you could never have imagined. Anyone who didn't experience that time and live through it truly cannot comprehend it or the raw passion of the moment. It can never be re-lived, even though every Clay momemt is priceless. Thanks for the time you take every day to give us these memories.

  9. I sure do have a copy of The Rolling Stone. I had to put it in a plastic bag because it was getting a little frayed at the edges. I have loads of magazines that he was in back then. I loved the part where he said, "I'm really not that special, really I'm not." Also, the part where someone offered Faye $16,000 for his 1999 Honda Accord with 88,000 miles on it, if only he'd autograph the dashboard. My mom said, "Is it ok?" I said, "Hello!" I owe $5,000 on it. Of course its ok." I just thought that was funny. But, really, he really hasn't changed at all. That's why we love him.

  10. I still have my copy and I framed the cover That magazine cover sure brought a lot of fun to the Clay Nation. I remember foundly the pages of discussions we had about it.

  11. I remember when I bought this magazine. I was beyond excited! I do still have it and enjoy looking at it again every now and then. I would not ever give it up!

  12. Gosh, musicfan, thank you for this! That B&W struck me so hard when I first saw it, I went from being a fan to being in love, LOL. I was just saying the other day I hadn't seen a copy of it for so long, and now you give it to me… THANK YOU.
    I have a copy of that RS tucked away somewhere too. When we heard it was coming, I called RS and ordered some copies (pre-computer days, haha). I gave the extras away over time, but have at least one in my Clay treasures.
    I tried at one time to obtain a copy of every mag cover he was on, but can you believe, according to fan site The Clay Board, by 2006 the count was up to 118?! I have a lot, but nowhere near that many!
    Love that article and all the pix… I'd forgotten he said grace at The Ivy (the restaurant in Beverly Hills where he was interviewed, on the patio), tho I remember vividly a pic of himself, his mom, and Bret at home at the table, holding hands while saying grace. How like him not to be self-conscious, even in BH, and just do it…
    I also remember all those personal questions, things you just don't ask people! I couldn't believe some of them, nor could he; his answers. tho, were hilarious without giving anything away, just like now, LOL. You're right, lovinclay, he hasn't changed!
    I loved the TV interview about the photoshoot, too. They turn the fan on and that black shirt starts flapping… About the B&W, in an article the photographer said he'd had to change film and Clay turned his head away; when the photog was done, he looked up and saw That Profile and said, "Don't move; don't move!" and snapped him like that, totally unposed. A classic.
    Musicfan, I really enjoyed this newsletter, as always thank you so much; and reading all the comments as well. Interesting that we all remember different things, but when I read somebody else's recap, then I remember that part, too. Such fun! And such fun being a Clay fan! He is a delight.

  13. I had my copy of the magazine for a long time, but somehow it disappeared in my last move. *sniff*
    I had a lot of collectibles…..and most are gone now. *double sniff*
    I love these walks down memory lane.Thx!

  14. Whoo hooo! I actually have one of these in perfect condition. I have been able to acquire lots of magazines from the early days…I love all of them and have read every article! LOL Better late than never, right? Excellent!!!!

  15. Great post! I love reading them every day.
    I have the RS cover on my wall about 4 foot away on my Clay wall behind my
    desktop, looking at it now LOL


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